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Ottoman Empire: Military flags

Last modified: 2016-11-03 by ivan sache
Keywords: fedais | nusret | young turks |
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The Fedais was an Infantry volunteer force, composed of fanatics and patriots, led by former Ottoman Army officers used in a paramilitary supportive role and were employed usually by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP; İttihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti), formerly known as a secret society established as the "Committee of Ottoman Union" (Turkish: İttihad-ı Osmanî Cemiyeti) in Istanbul on 6 February 1889. It was transformed into a political organisation (and later an official political party) by Bahaeddin Sakir, aligning itself with the Young Turks in 1906, during the period of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. In the west, members of the CUP were usually called "Young Turks" while in the Ottoman Empire, its members were known as Unionists". The CUP was dissolved in 1918.

The flag used by the Fedais (photo) is green with a white crescent and star, a white reverted "L" shape and a vertical bar. The crescent is charged with golden wrigin.
The photo, published in the British - Army and Navy. (1914) The Sultan's Army: Turkish Troops and German Methods (5 December 1914): 197-198, leads most people to believe that the flag was a First World War Turkish flag. It was actually a 'stock-photograph' from the Balkan War depicting an Ottoman militia unit. This same picture (reversed) was used in the 1914-16 German postcard as part of the montage of pictures supposed to be showing the events during the Suez attack.
[Ottoman Uniforms]

Fedai is an abbreviation of the Arabic word فِدائيّين, fidaiyyin and translates literally meaning: "those who sacrifice themselves".
The Fedais were often called bashi-bazouk or bashibazouk (Turkish başıbozuk, literally "damaged head", also named delibaş, literally "crazy head", both meaning "free headed", "leaderless", "disorderly", which were soldiers without pay who lived off loot (mercenaries) and were extint by the end of the 19th century but since the term became general, it was still in use even during the First World War.

Esteban Rivera, 24 March 2016

Infantry flag, 1911

An Ottoman Flag captured by the Italian Army in the Libyan War (image) is known from contemporary Italian colour postcards, and war-events illustrations as green with gold star and crescent, Ottoman script and fringe.
[Ottom na Uniforms]

Esteban Rivera, 24 March 2016

Young Turks

The "Young Turks" (Turkish: Jön Türkler), was a political reform movement in the early 20th century, favoring replacement of the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Empire with a constitutional monarchy. Like other revolutionary societies, the Young Turks had their origins in secret societies of "progressive medical university students and military cadets", namely the Young Ottomans established in 1865, driven underground along with all political dissent after the Constitution of 1876 was abolished and the First Constitutional Era brought to a close by Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1878 after only two years. The Young Turks favored a re-instatement of the Ottoman Parliament and the 1876 constitution. In 1906, the Ottoman Freedom Society (OFS) was established in Thessalonica by Mehmed Talaat. The OFS actively recruited members from the Third Army base, among them Major Ismail Enver (hence the formation of military volunteer units that would later be the Fedai). In September 1907, OFS announced they would be working with other organizations under the umbrella of the CUP. In reality, the leadership of the OFS would exert significant control over the CUP. Later, their leaders led a rebellion against the absolute rule of the Sultan in the 1908 "Young Turk Revolution". With this revolution aimed to reestablish multilateral elections and the Constitution. After 1908, the Young Turks’ initial umbrella political party, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), began a series of modernizing military and political reforms across the Ottoman Empire.
However, the CUP soon began to splinter as many of the more liberal and pro-decentralization Young Turks left to form an opposition party in late 1911, the Freedom and Accord Party (also known as the Liberal Union or Liberal Entente), with much of those staying in the CUP favoring a generally nationalist and pro-centralization policy. In a year-long power struggle throughout 1912, Freedom Accord and the remaining members of the CUP vied for control of the Ottoman government, the year seeing a rigged election by the CUP and a military revolt by Freedom and Accord.
The struggle between the two groups of Young Turks ended in January 1913, when the top leadership of the CUP seized personal power from Freedom and Accord in the Raid on the Sublime Porte. The subsequent CUP-led government was headed by interior minister and Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha. Working with him were war minister Enver Pasha and naval minister Djemal Pasha. These "Three Pashas", as they came to be known, exercised absolute control over the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1918, bringing the country closer to Germany, signing the Ottoman-German Alliance to enter the Empire into World War I on the side of the Central Powers, and carrying out the Armenian Genocide. The Young Turks was dissolved together with the CUP in 1918.

The Young Turks used a red flag with a white crescent and star in the middle and words in Arabic script in the corners: Adalet (Justice), Hürriyet (Freedom), ;Müsavit (Equality), Uhuvvet (brotherhood), and Ittihat (Unity).
[Ottoman Uniforms]

Esteban Rivera, 24 March 2016

Minesweeper Nusret


Flag of mineswweper Nusret - Photo by Clayton Horner, 9 February 2016

The flag from the Turkish World War I minesweeper Nusret is on display at the Istanbul Naval Museum.

Clayton Horner, 9 February 2016